This week we’re looking at the 2006 Mazda 6 S Grand Sport Wagon. Even this utility wagon comes with 18-inch wheels. Remember when 14” and 15” were the standard? This wagon is where practical comes home and although Corvette and other flashy cars are fun they just don’t fit enough of our needs. That need for speed is replaced with family comfort and convenience.
This wagon is one of a series I’m looking at and as I reflect on my test of this Mazda I am driving the more expensive Audi A3. I’m less impressed with the Audi quite frankly. I have for example been annoyed with Audi’s brakes and throttle action. Remember centrifugal clutch Cushman motor scooters? That’s what the Audi transmission reminds me of. You press the accelerator and after a brief delay your head is snapped back. No matter how gentle you are you can’t totally eliminate the problem. Why? Because it is engineered in the form of a thing called Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG). Ok, so there’s a reason for the stupid feeling shifting but I don’t have to like it.
And I don’t. Public service: Reminder – Your driving experience can be more enjoyable if more of us move to slower lanes if we’re not passing traffic in those lanes. It is also common courtesy, reduces road rage and improves traffic flow. Second – if you have and use cruise control it helps to smooth out the flow. Since so many cars these days are equipped with Cruise it is possible for us to make travel safer and smoother. Jackrabbit drivers will likely always be with us but you can do your part by not being one of them. Erratic starts and stops and rapid acceleration make for a ripple effect that causes accidents.
Parts – US/Canadian 55%, Japan 25%.
Assembly – United States
Class: – Midsize
Cars: – Mazda 3, 5, 6, 6 Sport Wagon, Speed 6, MPV, MX-5, RX-8, Tribute and Truck.
Handling & Performance:
Because of the lower center of gravity this scaled down Sport Utility looking vehicle handles like a sports car. Thus it is fun to drive. One negative is its wide turning radius, which can make parking and such maneuvers tedious. The V6 is very adequate and I couldn’t fault it on that score. It is reported the 4-cylinder engine is “Unresponsive” so that is a consideration when and if Mazda is your next buying choice.
Mazda has improved over the years and although not my favorite for styling this 2006 model is stylish and is competitive with more expensive cars. There aren’t a lot of wagons these days but I see them as merely a lower and smaller version of the more popular SUVs. SUV styling is popular because of the perception of what it can do rather that what it will ever be called upon to do.
Fit and Finish:
Not bad I guess. It’s all relative and if Mazda is a reliable product that justifies the added cost up front. I have had no report from readers to the contrary.
The audio is Sirius satellite radio compatible. My favorite however is XM and not because Howard Stern is on Sirius. Anyway they couldn’t be “Serious” about bringing that weird-O to Sirius radio. I simply like XM better.
Consumer Reports recommends Dodge Magnum, Nissan Maxima, Honda Accord and Subaru Legacy as alternates, which add to the competition noted here. My pick is the Jetta.
Mazda 6 Wagon $24-28,000, VW Jetta Wagon $19-22,000, VW Passat Wagon $23-31,000, Mercedes C-Class Wagon $34,000, Chevrolet Malibu Maxx $20-23,000, BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon $35,000, Subaru Outback $19-36,000, Subaru Legacy Wagon $23-31,000.
Roomy, nice handling, good power.
Wide turning radius can be troublesome, only fair fuel economy.
3.0 V6 215 hp engine, 5-speed manual transmission, 18 inch allow wheels, variable intermittent wipers, fog lights, rear wiper with washer, leather (heated front) seats, air conditioning, 60/40 split fold down rear seat, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, power windows and locks, Bose audio with 7 speakers and in-dash 6 CD changer,
19 City and 27 Highway MPG
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